Charters and Documents Relating To the City of Glasgow 1175-1649 Part 1. Originally published by Scottish Burgh Records Society, Glasgow, 1897.
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IV.—NOTES AS TO THE PORTS OR GATES OF THE BURGH OF GLASGOW, EXISTING IN 1649.
The boundaries of old properties in the city are sometimes described as infra muros or extra muros civitatis Glasguensis, but this would seem simply to indicate the position of these properties as within or without the ports. Eneo Silvio, writing in the fifteenth century, describes the towns in Scotland as being all unwalled. The entry to the city by the main streets was guarded by ports or gates, which were, in times of danger at all events, under the charge of keepers, and closed at night. Beyond the houses, on the outer fringe of the town, were yards and gardens, which it was the duty of the owners to have so fenced as to prevent the access of strangers otherwise than through the ports. At the ports customs or dues were levied on goods entering the city.
The protoeol books of M. Cuthbert Simson, notary and scribe to the chapter of the cathedral, extending from 1499 to 1513, refer to the Barras-yett in 1503. (fn. 1) Those of William Hegait, town clerk, extending from 1547 to 1555, contain several references to the ports or gates of the city. (fn. 2) The East port, or Gallowgate port, is mentioned in 1551 (fn. 3) and 1552; (fn. 4) the Stable Green port in 1552–3; (fn. 5) the West port, or Trongate port, in 1551; (fn. 6) and the South or Barras-yett port in 1549. (fn. 7)
The earliest reference to the ports or gates of Glasgow occurring in the records of the burgh, which are not preserved prior to 1573, is in the account of the treasurer, which, on 6th November of that year, shows a payment of £3 6s. 8d. Scots to one Archibald Lettrik, "in full contentatioun of the keiping of the Stabill Greyne port." On 29th October of the following year the magistrates of the burgh, in view of the "contagious seiknes callit the pest, newlye rissin within this realme, and for awaye halding and preservatioun of this gud town thairfra," passed a number of ordinances, one of which ordained four ports to be kept daily thereafter, and the porters to deliver the keys to one of the bailies each evening. This ordinance mentions seven ports—the Stable Green port, which was to be kept by John Fouler; the Gallowgate port, by Archibald Lettrik; the Trongate port, by James Robb; and the South port, called the Nether Barras-yett, by John Andrew. The Rattounraw port, the Drygate port, and the Greyfriar port were ordered to be made sure and locked, and to stand locked, and the keys to be delivered to the bailies; and none were to pass through these ports without the special licence of the provost and bailies. The Schoolhouse wynd and all the vennels through which entry to the burgh might be made were also ordered to be "simpliciter condampnit and stekit up." (fn. 8) That violation of this order was punished is evidenced by an act of the 30th of the following month, which found one Robert Thomson in the "wrang and amerciament of Court" for the "lifting" at his own hand "of the myd tre [post] of the port beside the Castleyett, it being lockit and the portar at his denner, and entering thairat." (fn. 9)
The Stable Green port or North port was situated at the northern extremity of the city near the wall which surrounded the Castle gardens. (fn. 10) The Castle Yett port or Castle port or Kirk port was situated on the side of the castle opposite to the Stable Green port across the street leading from the Wyndhead to the Cathedral. A part of the wall connected with this port, with a tower at its southern termination, remained till near the end of last century. The Old Barony Church was erected partly on the site of this tower.
The original Gallowgate port or East port was situated a little to the west of the Molendinar burn. It was afterwards placed on the eastern boundary of the city immediately to the west of the entry to St. Mungo's lane, extending across the street to the west corner of the Saracen's Head Inn. The north end of the wall connected with this gate rested on an angle of the old churchyard wall of Little St. Mungo.
The South port, Porta inferior, Nether Barras-yett, or Saltmarket port, was originally situated at the foot of Saltmarket, whence a street led to the old bridge of Glasgow, called the Bridgegait. On 14th September, 1644, the port was ordered to be taken down, and rebuilt nearer the river.
The Bridge port or Bridgegate port—frequently confounded with the Water port— formed the chief entrance to the town from the south. It is mentioned in the records of the burgh in 1588, but was removed about the close of last century.
The Water port stood in the line of the present Great Clyde Street, and a little to the west of Stockwell bridge. It formed the most convenient access to the burgh from Renfrewshire and Ayrshire. In 1639, when the defences of the city were strengthened, the Water port dyke was erected between the Lit house and Dyehouse and the old Custom house. This port appears in Slezer's view of the old Glasgow bridge. It was removed about the close of last century.